AI To Advance And Deepen Learning

middle school student coding on laptopby Dr. Bill Hudson, head of school

The debut last fall of ChatGPT and, more recently, Microsoft’s Bing GPT-4 and Google’s Bard have been getting a tremendous amount of press lately and have many in the educational field up in arms and very nervous. I’m not one of them. Instead, I believe that artificial intelligence can benefit students and teachers significantly to advance and deepen learning.

ChatGPT is not a technology to be feared, discouraged, or banned but to be embraced and harnessed. Artificial Intelligence can assist students in understanding complex topics better, provide assistance with homework, and sharpen their critical thinking skills. I don’t believe that AI will ever replace a teacher, but instead, it will provide them with a powerful toolbox to assist them in very practical ways so that they have more time to spend with their students.

Last fall, I wrote about Climate Alpha, a company using AI to understand how climate change will affect property development. Climate Alpha founder Parag Khanna began by asking, “How are cities adapting and investing in infrastructure to protect against climate impacts? Where are jobs growing? Where are people moving now, despite extreme heat or wildfires or sea level rise?” Climate Alpha is an excellent example of the shift from the Information Age to what author and futurist Daniel Pink calls the Conceptual Age. While the Information Age was all about big data, the Conceptual Age is concerned with using the information in new and novel ways to make the world a better place. Read More

Spring Auction Ticket Prices Increase April 1!

Alumni at AuctionWe are in the final days before ticket prices increase April 1! Now that the snow is beginning to melt and we’re seeing signs of spring, plan to celebrate the joy and imagination at MPA by joining us for the auction. There are still many ways for you to join us in celebration of MPA through this year’s auction:

  • Purchase a sponsorship or tickets. Don’t forget, your sponsorship helps to ensure teachers and staff are able to attend at no cost to them.
  • Purchase a Golden Ticket.
  • Learn more about the event and book your hotel room for a discounted overnight stay!

Building A Path For Success Through Alumni Mentorship

After a successful Alumni Meet & Greet event, MPA seniors and alumni mentors submitted their meaningful experiences and connections formed through the MPA Mentorship Program. Community members gathered in the Family Commons and connected based on similar interests, hobbies, career goals, and college choices. See all of the photos from the networking event here!

Pairing curious and inquisitive students with adults that have experience in their field of passion is an invaluable way to provide insight. This especially applies to students seeking to get a more detailed sense of a profession, college, or industry’s nuances. William Tan ’23 explains, “this program really helped me gain new perspectives on the transition between undergrad and medical school. I also picked up many great tips to help me with college. While I have heard more generalized perspectives regarding undergrad in the past, it was nice to hear about a more focused experience regarding the career I want to pursue. Knowing I will be starting this path next year, it was nice to hear a perspective from someone who has already experienced college.” Read More

Meet Georgia Magers ’23

Georgia Magers '23What do you love about MPA?
I love how MPA provides the space for kids of all backgrounds to communicate and learn together. We all have an equal chance to speak our minds while diversifying our own knowledge and perception of the world.

How are you encouraged to dream big and do right at MPA?
I am encouraged to dream big and do right through the supportive resources MPA has to offer. From an emphasis on mental health, to being greeted at the door each morning by staff, or being encouraged to ask questions in class each day.

What’s your big dream?
My big dream is to find a fulfilling life path that challenges me every day.

Why do you believe your teachers teach the way they do?
I believe my teachers teach the way they do to prepare me for life outside of MPA and help me find my passions inside and outside of school.

In what ways has MPA prepared you for life beyond school?
MPA has exposed me to more ideas, concepts, and people than I could have ever reached on my own. Read More

We Are Listening

“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and MOST of all, love of what you are doing.” -Pelé

The recent passing of Pelé was felt around the world. He was a remarkable athlete and is partially responsible for the rise in interest and participation in soccer in the United States. He was a role model, politician, businessman, and ambassador for UNESCO and the United Nations. He was also very committed and passionate about what he valued most, including ongoing growth and improvement.

At MPA, like Pelé, we strive for excellence at all times. Our dedicated faculty and staff work extremely hard each and every day, truly know their students, and are passionate about their academic, social, and emotional growth. We celebrate our successes, build upon our strengths, and strive for excellence. We are also willing to face the hard truth when we fail to meet expectations. The Net Promoter Survey, administered last month, is one of the ways we seek to engage parents and listen to their constructive criticism and take note of their commendations.

Approximately 78% of MPA families participated in the survey this year (although the numbers are skewed a bit because families were invited to take it several times if they had students in multiple divisions). According to the Net Promoter methodology, survey respondents are grouped into one of three categories: detractor, passive, or promoter. The breakdown for MPA is as follows:

  • Fifty-nine parents, or 16% of the survey responses, gave a score between zero and six and are considered “Detractors” or unhappy customers.
  • Ninety-five parents, or 26% of the survey responses, gave a score of seven or eight and are considered “Passives” or satisfied but unenthusiastic customers.
  • Two hundred and eight parents, or 57% of the survey responses, gave a score of nine or 10 and are considered “Promoters” or loyal enthusiasts.

Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter). The MPA score for 2022 is 41. To put that in context, SurveyMonkey reports an average score of 32 across industries. Read More

Reflections From a Transformative Experience

MPA Upper School students Alex Appleton, Abdur-Rahman Lodhi, Alex Appleton, Andrea Pugh, and Ema Santibañez represented MPA at the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). The students attended this transformative gathering in San Antonio, Texas in December. Some members of MPA’s faculty and staff also accompanied the students and participated in intentional professional development concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Regina Santiago, MPA’s kindergarten teacher, shared that “It was amazingly validating and healing to be in a space with so many other folks who understand the unique experience of being an educator of color in predominantly white institutions. It meant a lot to feel support and solidarity for my whole, authentic self. It was also great to spend more time with colleagues and students in other departments and divisions at MPA that I don’t get to spend enough time with because we’re all so busy!”

The workshops and modules that were available for faculty and staff ranged from resources for employees groups of color to general education on the nuances of being an employee in independent schools. Bakari Jackson, MPA’s communications coordinator, attended the event and recounts, “Although I’m not faculty, there were so many relevant workshops for me to learn from. I gained a considerable amount of beneficial tools and insights that are serving me today in my work here. I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunity. The time I spent and experiences I shared with my coworkers of color provided me with an invaluable sense of community that came back with me to MPA.”

While MPA employees attended their sessions, the students took part in the Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC). NAIS describes the program as “a multiracial, multicultural gathering of Upper School student leaders from across the U.S. and abroad. SDLC focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies, and building community. Led by a diverse team of trained adult and peer facilitators, participating students develop cross-cultural communication skills, design effective strategies for social justice practice through dialogue and the arts, and learn the foundations of allyship and networking principles.”

MPA is proud of the students’ passion for leadership and their dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion. We continue to look forward to hearing about these students’ experiences and instituting the practices that they learn into our community.

Buddy Families Needed

MPA is starting the onboarding process for more than 100 new students enrolled so far for the fall of 2022 and we are seeking volunteers to be buddy families! The opportunity involves connecting with the family over the summer months, helping them integrate into the social fabric of the class, and being a resource as they transition into a new school. You and your child will be a very warm and welcome friendly face on their first days of school! If you are interested in this meaningful volunteer opportunity, please contact Angie Gerstner, development coordinator, at

Get Your Tickets To MPA’s Spring Auction

Spring AuctionFriday, April 22, 2022
A’bulae | 255 6th St E, St Paul, MN 55101

The 2022 MPA Spring Auction: Let’s Dream is your chance to build community with fellow parents and raise funds in support of students and teachers. After years of joining together virtually, we can’t wait to safely be together in person to celebrate our students and school! Enjoy delicious cuisine, a hosted bar, live music, games, and both live and silent auctions.

Purchase tickets & learn more here.

We also need your help to ensure our silent auction is another great success! Contact us here anytime to learn more about our auction needs. Click here to view the 2022 Wish List.

Join us to dream big and celebrate all that we have accomplished together!

Science, Art, And Character Intersect In The Makerspace

students beginning to design their facesIf you are familiar with MPA, then you are probably also familiar with the AnnMarie Thomas Makerspace. Electrifying in its concept and its form, this area of the school houses the intersection of creativity and innovation. The Makerspace is the physical manifestation of MPA’s long-standing belief that learning should be hands-on, experiential, and joyful.

Keith Braafladt, MPA’s technology and innovation teacher, has already found himself right at home in the Makerspace during his first year as a faculty member. As a new friendly face on campus, Keith has dedicated this year to developing strong relationships with MPA teachers to integrate and deliver the best Makerspace curriculum and experience to our students. Curriculum that exists in the Makerspace connects liberal arts thinking with 21st century skills and competencies, providing students with opportunities to construct meaning through making via practical, hands-on, interdisciplinary, and problem-based projects. Most often, the work is centered around the design thinking process, a systematic way to solve real-world problems that major corporations use in the workplace.

student laying out a faceOne of the most memorable projects to occur in the Makerspace this year is still adorning the outer windows of the room, prompting those who pass by to pause and share a smile that is reflecting back at them. The activity was informally and aptly named “making faces,” because that is precisely what Lower School students did. Essentially, they observed, looking for faces out in the world. And under Keith’s model, the idea was to use all of the donated, found, and collected materials at the students’ disposal in the Makerspace to create a face out of everyday objects themselves. Keith has friends at the Exploratorium in San Francisco that have been doing a similar activity that inspired this one. Read More

Great Schools Depend On Great Teachers & Staff

from Bill Hudson, Head of School

This is the second of a four-part series of Head’s Messages that dives deep into MPA’s new strategic plan, 2024ward. Today we will outline this priority: Affirm and inspire our exceptional and dedicated faculty and staff through competitive compensation. The first article may be found here. An overview of 2024ward may be found here.

“It’s like baking a lasagna and baking a cake at the same time in the same kitchen, but you can only use one bowl,” responded one teacher when asked in a national survey to describe what teaching has been like during the pandemic. Teachers have demonstrated and modeled incredible resiliency as they pivoted to remote learning, to hybrid learning, and back to in person learning (and back to remote, unfortunately) along with a number of health and safety measures layered upon what typically happens in a classroom. Together with those in the medical field, public health, and first responders, teachers have been real heroes over the last two years.

Nowhere was this more evident to me than observing master teacher Mari Espeland one day in the fall of 2020. Mari was teaching music to two first grade classrooms simultaneously, one via Zoom, without singing. I marveled at the ease in which she transitioned between three distinct learning activities within 30 minutes. However, as a teacher myself, I know that what appeared to be effortless required a great deal of planning, a deep knowledge of music education, a thorough understanding the developmental needs of young learners, and many years of experience. Despite the limitations brought on by the pandemic, the students in Mari’s class were engaged, joyful, and learning about rhythm. Read More